NEW YORK (CNS) -- The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of Sept. 16. Please note that televised versions may or may not be edited for language, nudity, violence, and sexual situations.
Sunday, Sept. 16, 3-6 p.m. EDT (A&E) "We Are Marshall" (2006). Moving true-life story about the aftermath of a 1970 plane crash in West Virginia that killed 70 players, coaches and fans of a college football team, and how the grieving university town came to recover its spirit by the formation of a largely new team galvanized by the leadership of a new coach (a dynamic Matthew McConaughey), working in tandem with the Marshall University president (David Strathairn) and the assistant coach of the former team (Matthew Fox). Director McG's film, though to some extent formulaic and predictable, is several notches above average, bolstered by solid performances including that of Ian McShane, and a script that mostly avoids cliche, with good messages about winning not being everything, accepting loss, and healing from it, with a clear sense of this being a faith-based community. Several uses of the S-word as favored by the coach, a few other crass expressions and a discreetly handled plane crash. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
Tuesday, Sept. 18, 10 p.m.-midnight EDT (TCM) "Cabin in the Sky" (1943). Director Vincente Minnelli's now-classic adaptation of Vernon Duke's Broadway hit about Little Joe (Eddie "Rochester" Anderson), an inveterate gambler, torn between the emissaries of God and the devil, while good wife Petunia (Ethel Waters) tries to keep him from the snares of bad girl Georgia Brown (Lena Horne). Despite some period stereotyping, the musical is an incomparable compendium of the top black talent of the period (including Louis Armstrong, Rex Ingram, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, the Hall Johnson Choir), great songs ("Happiness Is Just a Thing Called Joe," "Taking a Chance on Love"), with a solid, if simplistic, moral underpinning and redemptive ending. Some suggestive elements, gambling, adultery and murder. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Friday, Sept. 21, 8-10:30 p.m. EDT (AMC) "The Day After Tomorrow" (2004). Visually spectacular doomsday drama about a scientist (Dennis Quaid) trying to reunite with his son (Jake Gyllenhaal) during a worldwide environmental catastrophe triggered by global warning which, in addition to unleashing monstrous hurricanes, killer tornadoes and biblical-proportion floods, threatens to rapidly plunge earth into a new ice age. The film is brimming with eye-popping special-effects sequences; director Roland Emmerich plays fast and loose with scientific facts to craft a high-concept roller-coaster ride full of escapist thrills but without much of a story beyond its nature-gone-mad premise. Intense scenes of natural disasters. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG-13 -- parents are strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Saturday, Sept. 22, 3:45-5:45 p.m. EDT (TCM) "Hot Millions" (1968). Deft British comedy in which an embezzler (Peter Ustinov) takes revenge on the computer system which caused his previous imprisonment by setting up phony companies for which he has programmed the computer to make regular payments. Aiding and abetting the comedy are Maggie Smith, Karl Malden and Bob Newhart, with director Eric Till contributing some fine comic visuals and gags. Mild romantic complications. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G -- general audiences.
Saturday, Sept. 22, 8-10:05 p.m. EDT (HBO) "The Shape of Water" (2017). Equal parts romantic fantasy, classic horror film and musical nostalgia piece, writer-director Guillermo del Toro's story of a cleaning lady (Sally Hawkins) in 1962 Baltimore who falls in love with a fish-man (Doug Jones) from the Amazon who is being kept in the secret lab where she works has such strong and pervasive sexual content as to make it unsuitable for the casual moviegoer and to require a restrictive classification. Nothing about this element of the movie is intended to appear prurient or shocking. But del Toro likes to underline his points in this mix of "Beauty and the Beast" and "Creature from the Black Lagoon" -- in the case of sexuality, with the cinematic equivalent of a bright, thick Magic Marker. Strong sexual content, including graphic marital lovemaking, bizarre activity and several glimpses of male and female nudity, fleeting gore, frequent rough language. The Catholic News Service classification of the theatrical version was L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was R -- restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
- - -
Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.